Monday, February 27, 2012

Brief Blogging Break

It's that time again -- time for me to take a brief break from blogging, while I focus on my graduate studies in theology. Please keep me in your prayers, as I deal with some minor health problems and finish up some special projects.

Thank you!

Stay tuned... I shall return soon.

God bless you! :)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Winners of the DVD Drawing

The winners of the drawing for "The Way" DVDs are:
  • Gardenia
  • Grace
  • Sarah D.

Please send me your full name and mailing address via email at:

Many thanks to The Maximus Group for the DVDs.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Benedictine nun set to make splash at this years Oscar ceremony

February 24, 2012. ( Among the Holywood stars walking the red carpet at this year's Oscars, will be this 73 year old Benedictine nun. She now goes by the name Mother Dolores and she belongs to the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut. But long before she was known as Dolores Hart, a rising young actress.

She is the subject of a new documentary “God is Bigger than Elvis” that has been nominated for an academy award. It's her life story, from an acting career that placed her in 11 movies alongside Elvis Presley to taking solemn vows to lead the cloistered life of a nun.

She starred in films as diverse as “Where the Boys Are” alongside George Hamilton, to the 1961 film “Francis of Assisi”.

This new documentary will focus not only on her Hollywood career and life as a nun, but also the daily activities of her sisters, that work to keep a farm on their monastery.

The documentary is set to premiere on HBO this April 5th. Those in Hollywood are calling this the 'homecoming' for their lost star Dolores Hart.

Related: Documentary about actress turned nun nominated for Oscar

Doonby brings a Pro-life theme into pop culture

February 24, 2012. ( Norma McCorvey, better known as Jane Roe, from the 1973 Supreme Court Case Roe v. Wade is set to have a cameo in the 2012 film Doonby. The film is a thriller about a woman determined to terminate her pregnancy in the 1960s.

It's set in the small Texas town of Smithville, where a handsome drifter rolls into town on an inter-state bus.

The drifter, played by John Schneider, catches the eye of the local doctor´s daughter. His musical charm and knack for being in the right place at the right time evoke suspicions in the town, which eventually drives him out.

Peter Mackenzie, the writer and director of the film took 15 years to pen the script. He initially did not include McCorvey´s cameo role, but after meeting her lawyer who happened to live in the town in which the film was set, Mackenzie wrote her part in.

The film will be in released in select theaters around the U.S. February 24th.

Related: Praised by Vatican official, 'Doonby' hitting screens

Fight Obama’s HHS Mandate: NATIONWIDE Rally March 23

In response to President Obama’s HHS Mandate, the Pro-Life Action League is partnering with Citizens for a Pro-Life Society in calling for a national day of prayer and protest.

The Nationwide Rally for Religious Freedom will take place in cities and towns all across the country on March 23 at Noon.

Thousands of faithful, pro-life Americans will meet at U.S. government sites—Federal Buildings, Congressional offices and historic sites—to stand up for religious freedom and demand that Obama rescind the HHS Mandate.

Over 50 cities and towns have already signs on to be a part of the Nationwide Rally on March 23, with more locations being added to the map every day.

~ Via Eric Schiedler.

St. Matthias, Apostle and Martyr

Today's saint of the day is St. Matthias, apostle and martyr.

St. Matthias was the one chosen to replace Judas to make up the number of apostles to twelve once more. Matthias was one of the first followers of Jesus -- one of his seventy-two disciples; but not one of the original apostles. And yet, he was to have this great glory, for it was of him that David spoke, when he prophesied that another would fill the vacancy left by Judas the traitor. Two Apostles were nominated for the position and lots were drawn to see which of them should be made one of the Twelve: the choice fell on Matthias.

St. Matthias received the Holy Spirit with the rest of the Apostles soon after his election and he joined them in converting nations to the faith. Greek tradition tells us that tells us that St. Matthias planted the faith about Cappadocia and on the coasts of the Caspian sea. We are also told that he was beheaded. His relics were taken to Jerusalem by the empress Helena when she went to the Holy Land to find the true cross of Christ. Today, some of his relics are in the abatical church of Triers, others are in Saint Mary Major in Rome.

against alcoholism, against smallpox; carpenters, Gary, Indiana, diocese of Great Falls-Billings, Montana, tailors

Last Day for The Way DVD Giveaway

To celebrate the DVD release of the inspiring, award wining movie, The Way, this week, I will be giving away three DVDs. All you need to do to is to comment on Thursday's post to enter.

Related Posts on Catholic Fire:

Movie Trailer: Emilio Estevez’s “The Way” starring Martin Sheen

DVD Giveaway of The Way Today

DVD Giveaway Coming This Thursday...

Priest Gives Obama's Mandate "The Finger (?)"

For more information, please check out the following links:

U.S. Bishops' Response to the Mandate

Declaration of Independence

First Amendment

Full Transcript of Notre Dame Address

Medical Article on Birth Control

Alternatives to Birth Control

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Take Action! Vote for Catholic Fire Today!

May I ask for your help?

The Readers’ Choice Awards for Catholic websites has opened voting. This blog is a finalist for Best Catholic Blog. Click HERE to go to the page to VOTE for Catholic Fire.

Every voter can cast one vote in every category every day of the voting period.

Therefore, I ask you to help Catholic Fire and vote each day until the voting closes.

In addition, @CatholicFire has been selected by the readers of the Catholicism GuideSite ( as one of the five finalists for Best Catholic to Follow on Twitter in the 2012 Catholicism Readers' Choice Awards! I would appreciate your vote in that category as well.

Thank you so much for your votes!

God bless you!

All Voting Categories in the About Catholicism Readers’ Choice Awards:

Best Catholic Book
Best Catholic Blog 
Best Catholic Website
Best Catholic Podcast 
Best Catholic Magazine
Best Catholic Newspaper 
Best Catholic iOS App 
Best Catholic Radio Show 
Best Catholic to Follow on Twitter
Best Catholic Facebook Page 

DVD Giveaway of The Way Today

To celebrate the DVD release of the inspiring, award wining movie, The Waythis week, I will be giving away three DVDs. All you need to do to is to comment on this post to enter.

The buzz on The Way reached the Vatican this past weekend when Cardinal Timothy Dolan made a reference to the film in his historic address before Pope Benedict XVI and the entire College of Cardinals at the “Day of Reflection and Prayer.” Cardinal Dolan’s reference of The Way was folded into a highly anticipated address on evangelization.

In his remarks, Cardinal Dolan said, “A movie popular at home now is The Way, starring a popular actor, Martin Sheen,” Dolan said. “Perhaps you have seen it. He plays a grieving father whose estranged son dies while walking the Camino di Santiago di Campostella in Spain. The father decides, in his grief, to complete the pilgrimage in place of his dead son. He is an icon of a secular man: self-satisfied, dismissive of God and religion, calling himself a ‘former Catholic,’ cynical about faith… but yet unable to deny within him an irrepressible interest in the transcendent, a thirst for something – no, Someone – more, which grows on the way.”

Favorite Quotes for Lent 2012

"Look at His adorable face.
Look at His glazed and sunken eyes.
Look at His wounds.
Look Jesus in the Face.
There, you will see how He loves us."

~ St. Therese of Lisieux

"Yes, I love the cross, the cross alone, because I always see it behind Jesus' shoulders."
~ St. Pio of Pietrelcina

"How can we complain when He Himself was considered 'as one struck by God and afflicted'." (Isa. 53:4)
~ St. Therese of Lisieux

"Are you capable of risking your life for someone? Do it for Christ."
~Pope John Paul II

"We all suffer for each other, and gain by each other's suffering; for man never stands alone here, though he will stand alone hereafter; but here is he is a social being, and goes forward to his long home as one of a large company."
~Cardinal Newman

"Nothing, how little so ever it be, if it is suffered for God's sake, can pass without merit in the sight of God."
~Thomas a Kempis

"As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus' thirst...'Repent and believe' Jesus tells us. What are we to repent?  Our indifference, our hardness of heart.  What are we to believe?  Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor -- He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you."  ~ Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

St. Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr

Today's saint is St. Polycarp of Smyrna (- 155), a disciple of the Apostles, bishop of Smyrna, and a friend of St Ignatius of Antioch. He is one of the earliest Christians whose writings still survive.

St. Polycarp was one of the immediate disciples of the Apostles, in particular St. John the Evangelist. He embraced Christianity very young and was named bishop of Smyrna, a post which he held for 70 years. He was greatly respected by the faithful, wrote many letters and formed many holy disciples. His epistle to the Philippians - the only one to be preserved - demonstrates his apostolic spirit, his profound humility and meekness, and his great charity.

St. Polycarp fought against heresy. He was a staunch defender of orthodoxy and an energetic opponent of heresy, especially Marcionism and Valentinianism (the most influential of the Gnostic sects). He also taught that Christians must walk in truth, do God’s will, keep all of His commandments, and love whatever He loved. Christians must refrain from all fraud, avarice, detraction, and rash judgment. They must repay evil with forgiveness and mercy. He taught that one must pray all the time, so as not to be led into temptation, fast, persevere and be joyful.

During his episcopate, a violent persecution broke out in Smyrna against the Christians. During this time, though fearless, the bishop retreated to a neighboring village, spending most of his time in prayer.

A boy betrayed the bishop, and horsemen came by night to arrest him. He met his captors at the door, ordered them a supper, and prayed for two hours before he went with them.

He was led directly to the proconsul, who ordered him to blaspheme Christ. St. Polycarp refused and he was to be burned alive.

The executioners would have nailed him to the stake, but he convinced them that it wasn’t necessary. So they simply tied his hands behind his back. At the end of his prayer, the executioners set the fire, but the large flames formed into an arch, gently encircling but not burning his body. Exasperated, officials ordered a spearman to pierce him. Such a quantity of blood flowed from his left side that it put out the fire. The Christians wanted St. Polycarp’s body but the centurion burnt it to ashes. The bones were kept as relics.

St. Polycarp is the patron against ear ache and dysentery.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Blushing Bride at 100

Pope explains the significance of Lent and Ash Wednesday

February 22, 2012. ( During the Pope's general audience, Benedict XVI talked about the meaning of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday. The Pope explained the significance of having 40 days of Lent. He also described it as a time for “spiritual renovation.”


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today the Church celebrates Ash Wednesday, the beginning of her Lenten journey towards Easter. The entire Christian community is invited to live this period of forty days as a pilgrimage of repentance, conversion and renewal.

In the Bible, the number forty is rich in symbolism. It recalls Israel’s journey in the desert, a time of expectation, purification and closeness to the Lord, but also a time of temptation and testing. It also evokes Jesus’ own sojourn in the desert at the beginning of his public ministry, a time of profound closeness to the Father in prayer, but also of confrontation with the mystery of evil.

The Church’s Lenten discipline is meant to help deepen our life of faith and our imitation of Christ in his paschal mystery.

In these forty days may we draw nearer to the Lord by meditating on his word and example, and conquer the desert of our spiritual aridity, selfishness and materialism. For the whole Church may this Lent be a time of grace in which God leads us, in union with the crucified and risen Lord, through the experience of the desert to the joy and hope brought by Easter.

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from England, Belgium, Norway, Canada and the United States. I offer a special welcome to the faithful of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham on the occasion of their pilgrimage to the See of Peter. I greet the pilgrim group from the Diocese of Antwerp, and I thank the choirs for their praise of God in song. With prayerful good wishes for a spiritually fruitful Lent, I invoke upon all of you God’s abundant blessings!

Ash Wednesday: A Journey Into the Desert

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.

(Joel 2: 12-13)

It's that time of year again -- the time of both internal and external recollection that we are setting out on a journey. On Ash Wednesday, the ashes placed on our forehead invite us to begin a new journey of repentance. They invite us to turn back to God and to receive new life. Once again, we are called to let God penetrate deeper into our lives, for indeed, turning back to Him with our whole hearts is a submission to His holy will.

Lent is a time when we permit God to purify our hearts allow Him to unite our wills with His. Lent is a time of interior spring cleaning and obtaining new strength and great graces from God. This is the time of year to take a good look inside of ourselves and take inventory. What bad habit or sin can I work on permanently eliminating in my life? What sin am I really attached to that I can work on removing – not just during this Lenten season, but permanently? Is this sin really that necessary for my survival in this world? What virtue can I replace it with to ensure my survival in the next life?

This Lent, as in all past seasons of Lent, let us permit God to change at least one of our vices into a virtue. Today, let us pray for discernment, that God will help us work on that area of our lives that He wants us to change and ask for His help as we enter into these 40 days of desert with Him.

Lenten Prayer

Heavenly Father, as I begin this journey into the desert with You, send Your Holy Spirit to enlighten me and to give me wisdom as to what it is You desire to change within me. Help me turn away from sin and come to back to You with all my heart through daily prayer and penance. Grant me the grace to persevere on the journey and the willingness to submit and surrender my heart to You. Amen.

© 2010, Jean M. Heimann, updated 2012

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2,500 Religious Leaders Sign Letter Protesting Obama Mandate

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins

What a wonderful way to start the day!

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins led a news conference today during which he is unveiling a new letter signed by more than 2,500 Catholic, evangelical, Protestant, Jewish and other religious leaders opposing the new Obamacare mandate.

The leaders are urging President Obama to reverse his mandate decision and protect the conscience rights of those who have moral and religious opposition to funding or providing contraceptives and abortifacients.

“It took just three weeks, but every single Catholic Bishop in America has officially condemned the President’s mandate. Even though the media has mostly buried this fact, one hundred percent of them oppose the rule that orders faith-based groups to pay for drugs that destroy pregnancies or prevent them. It’s a formidable group, and today, they do not stand alone,” Perkins said. “Every pocket of religious America is linking arms at the front lines of this war on religious freedom.”

Read the full story

Happy Shrove Tuesday! Happy National Pancake Week!

Check out the delicious recipes here for Shrove Tuesday and National Pancake Week.

Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate Ash Wednesday in the Basilica of Santa Sabina

February 21, 2012. ( Next Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent when Catholics bare the traditional cross of ashes on their forehead, as a sign of penance.

This year, Benedict XVI will receive ashes from Cardinal Josef Tomko, who will recite “Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.”

For about 1,200 years, tradition marks that Pope usually leave the Vatican on Ash Wednesday, to celebrate the date in one of Rome's basilicas.

For decades now, the ceremony has taken place at the Basilica of San Anselmo in Rome's Avventino Hill. The pope then heads a procession that ends at the Basilica of Santa Sabina. The uphill procession symbolizes the effort Catholics make to be Holy.

A few days later, the Pope will suspend all meetings for seven days to take a spiritual retreat. It will begin on Sunday February 26 and conclude on Saturday March 3.

Preaching will be Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of the Congo. He's one of the important figures of the African Church, also one of the leading voices in defense of human rights.

Then, the pope will visit a Roman parish. This year he will go to San Giovanni Battista de La Salle al Torrino.

The schedule for this Lent ends with two big events: the visit of Anglican Primate Rowan Williams on 10 March, and the pope's trip to Mexico and Cuba from March 23rd to the 29th.

The pope will return to Rome three days before Palm Sunday, giving him only 72 hours to recuperate before the ceremonies of Holy Week.

St. Peter Damian: Monk, Bishop, Cardinal, Reformer, Doctor of the Church

Today is the optional memorial of St. Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, who was one of the Church's greatest reformers in the Middle Ages.

Peter was the youngest child born to a large family in Ravenna, Italy in 1007. His parents both died when he was young and he was placed in the care of one of his brothers, who treated him like a slave. His oldest brother, a priest in Ravenna, rescued him and sent him away to study. Peter was brilliant and excelled in his studies (theology and cannon law), later returning to Ravena as a professor. Unable to endure the scandals and distractions of university life, he joined a group of Benedictine monks living in northern Italy. There he became a prior at the young age of 36: a position he held unto his death. While at the hermitage, Peter performed austere penances to the extent that he developed near permanent insomnia and was forced to modify them.

Although living in the cloister, Peter kept close watch on the Church and worked for her purification. He wrote to the pope, urging him to deal with the scandals of the Church in Italy. In 1051, Peter published his treatise on the vices of the clergy, "Liber Gomorrhianus". He fought the scandolous behavior among the clergy of the time and upheld priestly celibacy. He was illustrious and brilliant, simple and outspoken in his denunciation of all heresies and evils and was a great reformer of the Church in troubled times. His personal example and many writings exercised great influence on religious life in the 11th and 12th centuries. One of his greatest works is the biography of Saint Romuald, the founder of his Order.

Pope Stephen IX named him a cardinal and Bishop of Ostia. He died in 1072 at the age of 65 and was immediately acclaimed as a saint. Pope Leo XII declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1823.

Marian Prayer of St. Peter Damian

Twelve Quotes from St. Peter Damian -- BettNet.Com

Monday, February 20, 2012

Santorum: Religious Liberty is at Stake

Lenten Activities 2012

When is Lent this year?

This coming Wednesday, February 22, is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent ends with the start of the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Good Thursday, April 5, and Easter Sunday is April 8.

What is Lent?

Lent is the forty-day liturgical season of fasting, prayer and almsgiving in preparation for Easter. It is a time of preparation for the full celebration of the gift of love offered to us our Lord through the Pascal Mystery.

"Lent is a retreat that the Church gives us in order to re-focus on what should be first in our lives. The purpose of Jesus' life was to glorify the Father and save the world. ..Lent is not first a time of giving up but a time to re-choose to be the victim of Christ, the Lamb. It is a time to live the Beatitudes.”

~Fr. Dominique, O.P., founder of the Community of St. John

Lenten Ideas for Adults


Fast from watching TV one night a week so that you can spend time on a Lenten practice, such as praying, reading the Bible, and serving others. Fast from watching one movie during Lent and give the money and the time on service to others.

Fast from using foul language and put-downs and begin affirming others with positive speech; use your speech to encourage, rather than discourage others

Fast from purchasing new things like clothing, music, and magazines; instead make a donation to a charitable cause

Fast from holding resentments and learn to practice forgiveness

Fast from gossiping and dishonesty and begin the practice of honesty and truthfulness

Fast from a favorite snack food or drink and set aside the money you would have to spend on them to a favorite charity

Fast from being angry or upset with people who have hurt or offended you and pray for the courage to forgive them

Fast from feeling guilty or angry with yourself; instead, remember God’s great love for you

Fast (and pray) for the defunding of Planned Parenthood and for an end to the culture of death.


· Read the Lenten Scripture readings daily

· Participate in Ash Wednesday services

· Participate in the Stations of the Cross

· Participate in Lenten Liturgies in your parish or diocese

· Frequent the sacrament of Reconciliation

· Increase the amount of time you spend in prayer during Eucharistic Adoration or before the Blessed Sacrament

· Pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily

· Increase the amount of time you spend praying for others by fifteen minutes each day· Add the rosary or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to your daily prayers

· Spend time in prayer at the local abortion mill or if you are unable to be physically present, offer up prayers and sacrifices for the unborn, the mothers, and the families who are there, as well as for those working at the abortion mill.


Donate personal possessions such as clothing, books, shoes, to people in need

· Dedicate time for service during Lent, e.g., working at a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter· Donate money saved by fasting to the parish community food pantry, food bank, homeless shelter, or crisis pregnancy center· Volunteer at a local food shelter, homeless shelter or a nursing home several hours per week

· Volunteer at your local crisis pregnancy center (requires training first)

· Volunteer to read books and magazines to the elderly

· Help others learn to read by becoming a literacy trainer or volunteer to tutor children

· Train to be a hospice volunteer or support the work of the Hospice movement

· Give the gift of sight by donating old eyeglasses or unused frames to the local Lion’s Club who recycle them and distribute to the needy

· Donate diapers, formula, baby clothing, baby furniture, and maternity clothing to a local crisis pregnancy center. If you knit or crochet, make booties or baby blankets and donate them to the local crisis pregnancy center.

Lenten Ideas for Children


Give up one TV show or the radio or music for 30 minutes and spend that time helping a family member.Give up something you enjoy doing today (like dessert or snacks) and spend 10 minutes praying for the needs of others.

Give up something you enjoy today (like dessert or snacks) and donate 25 cents to your Operation Rice Bowl box.

Give up buying something new (clothes, CD, magazine, jewlery) and donate 50 cents to your Operation Rice Bowl box.Give up going to a movie or other fun activity and donate the money from this activity to your Operation Rice Bowl box or other people in need in your community.

Think about a bad habit you would like to change, like telling a lie, yelling at others, getting angry, putting people down, and choose to avoid that habit and do something positive instead.

Think about how often you fail to listen to your parents when they ask you do something. Resolve to listen to them and to obey them the first time they ask you to do something rather than making them remind you to do it again.

Think about someone you are angry with or who has hurt you. Ask God to give you the courage to forgive and pray for that person each day. Think about at least one thing that is good about them and remember that God loves them and wants you to do the same. Picture them with Jesus.

Share lots of smiles today.

Give a hug to everyone in your family.

Compliment each person in your family today.

Give up complaining, frowns, and negative thoughts today.


Pray the Our Father three times today -- in the morning when you get up, at noontime, and at bedtime.

Pray the Angelus with your family or by yourself three times today -- in the morning, at noon, and at suppertime.

Pray the family rosary or at least one decade with your family daily.

Say a prayer for someone who is sick today.

Pray for a forgiving heart and ask the people you have hurt to forgive you.

Participate in the Stations of the Cross during Lent.

Participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Lent.

List three blessings you have been given.

Say a prayer to God, giving thanks for each of those blessings.

Make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament and pray for those who are homeless.

Think about ways you and your family might be able to help them.


Go through your closet and donate clothing you no longer wear, but are in good shape, to those in your community who are in need of clothing.

Show an act of kindness to a family member today.

Show an act of kindness to someone you don't like.

Do someone else's chores one day this week.

Ask your mom or dad how you can help them.

Write a letter or create a card for someone who is sick or lonely and deliver it to them. Buy a can of food and donate to a food bank or a homeless shelter.

Save your money and buy some baby wipes to donate to a crisis pregnancy center.

If you earn an allowance, save up your money and buy some diapers, baby bottles, or formula and donate it to a crisis pregnancy center.Together, with your family, spend time serving others during Lent.

Work at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.

Visit elderly people who are in nursing homes or shut-ins.Talk with your family about eating one simple meal each week of Lent and putting the money you save in the Operation Rice Bowl box or giving the money to a crisis pregnancy center or to a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.

Offer to help out a family in your neighborhood or community who are dealing with job loss. Ask your parents if you can invite them to dinner or bring a covered dish to their house. Help your parents with the dinner or with making special invitations for the dinner.

~ © 2010 Jean M. Heimann, revised and updated 2012

More information and ideas on Lent:

Aggie Catholics - Lent 2012
Catholic Online - FAQs About Lent
Our Sunday Visitor - Your Guide to a Catholic Lent
Pope Benedict XVI's Lenten Message for 2012

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DVD Giveaway Coming This Thursday...

The inspiring, award winning movie, The Way, starring the fabulous father and son duo Martin Sheen and Emilio Estev, will be released on DVD this Tuesday, Feb.21st. This week, I will be giving away three DVDs.

I will ask readers to comment on my post offering the giveaways promoting The Way and then select the names randomly from those posted. The dates for commenting will be Thursday, February 23 (The day after Ash Wednesday) and Friday, February 24.

Remember to stop by and comment on the promotional post on Thursday. Good luck!

Pope names 22 new Cardinals, calls them to sacrifice

Pope Benedict XVI receives Cardinal Timothy Dolan and gives him his biretta on Feb. 18, 2012

It's official. Saturday morning the Pope named 22 new cardinals in St. Peter's Basilica. Benedict XVI constantly smiled as he individually blessed the new cardinals and bestowed the traditional red brimmed hat over their heads.

“The new cardinals are entrusted with the service of love,” the Pope said in his homily for the Feb. 18 consistory ceremony, which was held in St. Peter’s Basilica.

He then reflected on the significance of the red birettas that he would later place on the heads of the new cardinals. “Love for God, love for his Church, an absolute and unconditional love for his brothers and sisters, even unto shedding their blood, if necessary, as expressed in the words of placing the biretta and as indicated by the color of their robes.”

In total, 22 new cardinals were created this morning, including two from the United States. They are Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, and Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien, Emeritus Archbishop of Baltimore and now the Grand Master of The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

Blessed Francisco and Jacinto Marto

Today we commemorate Blessed Francisco and Jacinto Marto, the visionaries at Fatima.

Francisco, 11, and Jacinta, 10, are the youngest non-martyrs to be beatified in the history of the Church. The brother and sister, who tended to their families’ sheep with their cousin Lucia Santo in the fields of Fatima, Portugal, witnessed the apparitions of Mary, now commonly known as Our Lady of Fatima.

During the first apparition, which took place May 13, 1917, Our Lady asked the three children to say the Rosary and to make sacrifices, offering them for the conversion of sinners. The children did, praying often, giving their lunch to beggars and going without food themselves. They offered up their daily crosses and even refrained from drinking water on hot days.

In October 1918, Francisco and Jacinta became seriously ill with the Spanish flu. Our Lady appeared to them and said she would to take them to heaven soon.

Bed-ridden, Francisco requested his first Communion. The following day, Francisco died, April 14, 1919. Jacinta suffered a long illness as well. She was eventually transferred to a Lisbon hospital and operated for an abscess in her chest, but her health did not improve. She died Feb. 20, 1920.

Pope John Paul II beatified Francisco and Jacinta May 13, 2000, on the 83rd anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, teaching us that even young children can become saints.

A clip from the 1952 movie Miracle Of Our Lady Of Fatima as the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared for the first time to the three seers Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia at the Cova Da Iria, Fatima, Portugal in May 13, 1917:


Our Lady of Fatima on Fox News

Feast of Our Lady of Fatima

Fatima the Marvelous Miracle of the Sun

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Blessed Fra Angelico

Today is a special day for my community. It is the feast of Blessed Fra Angelico.

Bl. John of Fiesole, popularly known as Bl. Fra Angelico, was a Dominican painter in the mid-fifteenth century known for the beauty of his paintings and the holiness of his priestly life. Nicknamed “Angelico” by his brothers, his Dominican consecration and life are worthy of imitation as he preached Jesus Christ by his life, his words, and his paintings.

Given the name Guido at Baptism, this saint was born near Vicchio, in the vicinity of Florence, at the end of the 14th century. From his youth he practiced the art of painting. Having entered the Dominican convent in Fiesole, he was given the name Brother Giovanni (Brother John). After ordination he held various responsibilities, one of which was that of prior of the convent in Fiesole.

Faithful to the promises he made as a Dominican, to preach the Gospel after having contemplated it in prayer, Fra Angelico put his creativity at the disposal of the Lord. With brush and paint in hand, he used his talents to transmit to all people the sublimity and the redemptive strength of the divine mysteries.

Between 1425 and 1447, Fra Angelico carried out his activity for the Dominican convents and other ecclesiastical institutes at Fiesole, Florence (most especially at the convent of San Marco), Cortona and Orvieto. The fame of his genius merited him the esteem of the Sovereign Pontiffs Eugenio IV and Nicolas V, who contracted him for the task of frescoing several rooms in the Vatican Palace (1445-1449).

Fra Angelico died on February 18, 1455, in the convent of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome and was buried in the adjoining Basilica, where his body was covered by a simple slab on which was carved his portrait. With a personality that was uncomplicated and clear, Brother Giovanni had lived a poor and humble life, refusing honors and positions.

The virtue and the profound religious spirit which characterized the life of this artist and Dominican is reflected in his spirituality, his purity, and the luminosity of his art. Even before his official recognition as a blessed of the Church, he had been given by the faithful the title “Beato Angelico.” In a moving ceremony on October 18, 1984, Pope John Paul II, on his knees in front of Fra Angelico’s tomb, proclaimed him solemnly to be the universal patron of all artists.

The Incarnation was one of Fra Angelico’s favorite themes, and he painted over 25 variations of it. His painted meditations, so needed at the time of the early Renaissance, are still necessary today. God became man to bring us closer to Himself by way of all things human. He makes all things new by fashioning them into possible vehicles of grace for us, so that by visible realities and concrete concepts, we can arrive at an understanding and a love of higher, invisible realities, all leading to God Himself.

View his paintings online from Florence.

Scenes from San Marco, Florence, painted by the Dominican Friar Fra Angelico (died 1455), Blessed John of Fiesole, patron of artists. Father Michael Morris, O.P., writes in Magnificat, February 2010: "While living at the Dominican house of San Marco in Florence, Fra Angelico painted in each friar's cell a scene drawn from Scripture and tradition, a pictorial representation that would inspire the occupant to pray in the manner of the order's founder, Saint Dominic. The frescoes are an eloquent expression of the order's spirituality, a testament to the potent blending of image and prayer."

I had the wonderful opportunity of viewing these paintings when I visited Florence in 2006.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Documentary about actress turned nun nominated for Oscar

Mother Dolores Hart, O.S.B., a former actress turned cloistered nun, will attend her first Academy Awards show since 1959 to show support for 'God is the Bigger Elvis,' an Oscar-nominated documentary about her and her abbey.

Mother Dolores, 73, was an award-winning actress who performed in two Elvis Presley movies. In 1963, she was about to sign a seven-figure contract and was engaged to a Los Angeles businessman when she decided to join the Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Conn, where she is now prioress.

The 37-minute documentary talks about Mother Dolores' story and about life at the abbey. It is an Oscar nominee for best documentary short category and will premiere April 5 on HBO.

'I adored Hollywood. I didn't leave because it was a place of sin,' she told USA Today.

"I left Hollywood at the urging of a mysterious thing called vocation. It's a call that comes from another place that we call God because we don't have any other way to say it. It's a call of love. Why do you climb a mountain?"

Read the full story.

Cardinal-Designate Timothy Dolan: 7 Ways to Evangelize to a Secular World

This is an excerpt from Archbishop Dolan's speech to Pope Benedict and the Cardinals today, in which he outlined seven specific ways we can evangelize in this culture of secularization:

Secularization, which presents itself in cultures by imposing a world and humanity without reference to Transcendence, is invading every aspect of daily life and developing a mentality in which God is effectively absent, wholly or partially, from human life and awareness. This secularization is not only an external threat to believers, but has been manifest for some time in the heart of the Church herself. It profoundly distorts the Christian faith from within, and consequently, the lifestyle and daily behavior of believers. They live in the world and are often marked, if not conditioned, by the cultural imagery that impresses contradictory and impelling models regarding the practical denial of God: there is no longer any need for God, to think of him or to return to him. Furthermore, the prevalent hedonistic and consumeristic mindset fosters in the faithful and in Pastors a tendency to superficiality and selfishness that is harmful to ecclesial life. (Benedict XVI, Address to Pontifical Council for Culture, 8.III.2008)

This secularization calls for a creative strategy of evangelization, and I want to detail seven planks of this strategy.

1. Actually, in graciously inviting me to speak on this topic, “The Announcement of the Gospel Today, between missio ad gentes and the new evangelization,” my new-brother-cardinal, His Eminence, the Secretary of State, asked me to put in into the context of secularism, hinting that my home archdiocese of New York might be the “capital of a secular culture.”

As I trust my friend and new-brother-cardinal, Edwin O’Brien -- who grew up in New York -- will agree, New York -- without denying its dramatic evidence of graphic secularism – is also a very religious city. There one finds, even among groups usually identified as materialistic -- the media,
entertainment, business, politics, artists, writers -- an undeniable openness to the divine!

The cardinals who serve Jesus and His Church universal on the Roman Curia may recall the address Pope Benedict gave them at Christmas two years ago when he celebrated this innate openness to the divine obvious even in those who boast of their secularism:

We as believers, must have at heart even those people who consider themselves agnostics or atheists. When we speak of a new evangelization these people are perhaps taken aback. They do not want to see themselves as an object of mission or to give up their freedom of thought and will. Yet the question of God remains present even for them. As the first step of evangelization we must seek to keep this quest alive; we must be concerned that human beings do not set aside the question of God, but rather see it as an essential question for their lives. We must make sure that they are open to this question and to the yearning concealed within. I think that today too the Church should open a sort of “Court of the Gentiles” in which people might in some way latch on to God, without knowing him and before gaining access to his mystery, at whose service the inner life of the Church stands.

This is my first point: we believe with the philosophers and poets of old, who never had the benefit of revelation, that even a person who brags about being secular and is dismissive of religion, has within an undeniable spark of interest in the beyond, and recognizes that humanity and creation is a dismal riddle without the concept of some kind of creator.

A movie popular at home now is The Way, starring a popular actor, Martin Sheen. Perhaps you have seen it. He plays a grieving father whose estranged son dies while walking the Camino di Santiago di Campostella in Spain. The father decides, in his grief, to complete the pilgrimage in place of his dead son. He is an icon of a secular man: self-satisfied, dismissive of God and religion, calling himself a “former Catholic,” cynical about faith . . . but yet unable to deny within him an irrepressible interest in the transcendent, a thirst for something – no, Someone -- more, which grows on the way.

Yes, to borrow the report of the apostles to Jesus from last Sunday’s gospel, “All the
people are looking for you!”

2. . . . and, my second point, this fact gives us immense confidence and courage in the
sacred task of mission and New Evangelization. “Be not afraid,” we’re told, is the most repeated exhortation in the Bible. After the Council, the good news was that triumphalism in the Church was dead. The bad news was that, so was confidence!

We are convinced, confident, and courageous in the New Evangelization because of the power of the Person sending us on mission -- who happens to be the second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity – because of the truth of the message, and the deep down openness in even the most secularized of people to the divine.

Confident, yes!
Triumphant, never!

What keeps us from the swagger and arrogance of triumphalism is a recognition of what Pope Paul VI taught in Evangelii Nuntiandi: the Church herself needs evangelization! This gives us humility as we confess that Nemo dat quod not habet, that the Church has a deep need for the interior conversion that is at the marrow of the call to evangelization.

3. A third necessary ingredient in the recipe of effective mission is that God does not satisfy the thirst of the human heart with a proposition, but with a Person, whose name is Jesus. The invitation implicit in the Missio ad gentes and the New Evangelization is not to a doctrine but to know, love, and serve -- not a something, but a Someone. When you began your ministry as successor of St. Peter, Holy Father, you invited us to friendship with Jesus, which is the way you defined sanctity.
There it is . . . love of a Person, a relationship at the root of out faith.

As St. Augustine writes, “Ex una sane doctrina impressam fidem credentium cordibus singulorum qui hoc idem credunt verissime dicimus, sed aliud sunt ea quae creduntur, aliud fides qua creduntur” (De Trinitate, XIII, 2.5)

4. Yes, and here’s my fourth point, but this Person, Jesus, tells us He is the truth. So, our mission has a substance, a content, and this twentieth anniversary of the Catechism, the approaching fiftieth anniversary of the Council, and the upcoming Year of Faith charge us to combat catechetical illiteracy.

True enough, the New Evangalization is urgent because secularism has often choked the seed of faith; but that choking was sadly made easy because so many believers really had no adequate knowledge or grasp of the wisdom, beauty, and coherence of the Truth. Cardinal George Pell has observed that “it’s not so much that our people have lost their faith, but that they barely had it to begin with; and, if they did, it was so vapid that it was easily taken away.”

So did Cardinal Avery Dulles call for neo-apologetics, rooted not in dull polemics but in the Truth that has a name, Jesus.

So did Blessed John Newman, upon reception of his own biglietto nominating him a cardinal warn again of what he constantly called a dangerous liberalism in religion: “. . . the belief that there is no objective truth in religion, that one creed is as good as another . . . Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment, a taste . . . ”

And, just as Jesus tells us “I am the Truth,” He also describes Himself as “the Way, and the Life.” The Way of Jesus is in and through His Church, a holy mother who imparts to us His Life. “For what would I ever know of Him without her?” asks De Lubac, referring to the intimate identification of Jesus and His Church. Thus, our mission, the New Evangelization, has essential catechetical and ecclesial dimensions.

This impels us to think about Church in a fresh way: to think of the Church as a mission. As John Paul II taught in Redemptoris Missio, the Church does not “have a mission,” as if “mission” were one of many things the Church does. No, the Church is a mission, and each of us who names Jesus as Lord and Savior should measure ourselves by our mission-effectiveness. Over the fifty years since the convocation of the Council, we have seen the Church pass through the last stages of the Counter-Reformation and rediscover itself as a missionary enterprise. In some venues, this has meant a new discovery of the Gospel. In once-catechized lands, it has meant a re-evangelization that sets out from the shallow waters of institutional maintenance, and as John Paul II instructed us in Novo Millennio Ineunte, puts out “into the deep” for a catch.

In many of the countries represented in this college, the ambient public culture once transmitted the Gospel, but does so no more. In those circumstances, the proclamation of the Gospel -- the deliberate invitation to enter into friendship with the Lord Jesus -- must be at the very center of the Catholic life of all of our people. But in all circumstances, the Second Vatican Council and the two great popes who have given it an authoritative interpretation are urging us to call our people to think of themselves as missionaries and evangelists.

5. When I was a new seminarian at the North American College here in Rome, all the firstyear men from all the Roman theological universities were invited to a Mass at St. Peter’s with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal John Wright, as celebrant and homilist. We thought he would give us a cerebral homily. But he began by asking, “Seminarians: do me and the Church a big favor. When you walk the streets of Rome, smile!”

So, point five: the missionary, the evangelist, must be a person of joy.

“Joy is the infallible sign of God’s presence,” claims Leon Bloy. When I became Archbishop of New York, a priest old me, “You better stop smiling when you walk the streets of Manhattan, or you’ll be arrested!”

A man dying of AIDS at the Gift of Peace Hospice, administered by the Missionaries of Charity in Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s Archdiocese of Washington, asked for baptism. When the priest asked for an expression of faith, the dying man whispered, “All I know is that I’m unhappy, and these sisters are very happy, even when I curse them and spit on them. Yesterday I finally asked them why they were so happy. They replied ‘Jesus.’ I want this Jesus so I can finally be happy. A genuine act of faith, right?

The New Evangelization is accomplished with a smile, not a frown.

The missio ad gentes is all about a yes to everything decent, good, true, beautiful and noble in the human person.

The Church is about a yes!, not a no!

6. And, next-to-last point, the New Evangelization is about love. Recently, our brother John Thomas Kattrukudiyil, the Bishop of Itanagar, in the northeast corner of India, was asked to explain the tremendous growth of the Church in his diocese, registering over 10,000 adult converts a year. “Because we present God as a loving father, and because people see the Church loving them.” he replied. Not a nebulous love, he went on, but a love incarnate in wonderful schools for all children, clinics for the sick, homes for the elderly, centers for orphans, food for the hungry.

In New York, the heart of the most hardened secularist softens when visiting one of our inner-city Catholic schools. When one of our benefactors, who described himself as an agnostic, asked Sister Michelle why, at her age, with painful arthritic knees, she continued to serve at one of these struggling but excellent poor schools, she answered, “Because God loves me, and I love Him, and I want these children to discover this love.”

7. Joy, love . . . and, last point . . . sorry to bring it up, . . . but blood.

Tomorrow, twenty-two of us will hear what most of you have heard before: “To the praise of God, and the honor of the Apostolic See receive the red biretta, the sign of the cardinal’s dignity; and know that you must be willing to conduct yourselves with fortitude even to the shedding of your blood: for the growth of the Christian faith, the peace and tranquillity of the People of God, and the freedom and spread of the Holy Roman Church.”

Read the full speech.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan brings excitement on New Evangelization to Vatican

February 17, 2012. ( Benedict XVI met with 133 cardinals to exchange views on his plan for the “New Evangelization” and the upcoming “Year of Faith”. The pope asked the cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York to speak to the group on the New Evangelization. The meeting was closed, but some accounts have called it one of the most energized meetings held in the Vatican.

Dolan spoke about movies such as “Of Gods and Men” and “The Way”. He also joked a bit, and asked to go for a “Church of 'yes' instead of a Church of 'no.'”

Card. Carlos Amigo
Archbishop Emeritus of Seville (Spain)
“Encounters with the Holy Father are always very nice, and afterward we prayed together. There were some very thoughtful presentations on the New Evangelization and the Year of the Faith. As well as the words by different cardinals. This afternoon we will have the answers of the Holy Father.”

Card. Lluis Martinez Sistach
Archbishop of Barcelona (Spain)
“The first was on the New Evangelization and the 'Evangelization ad gentes' by the archbishop and cardinal-designate of New York. Due to his very positive character, there is a lot of hope looking forward to the announcement of Jesus Christ.”

Card. Severino Poletto
Archbishop Emeritus of Turin (Italy)
“The Archbishop of New York has spoken in a deep and wonderful way. We are marveled by his exhibition.”

Also behind closed doors, Italian Archbishop Rino Fisichella explained the Vatican plans for the next Year of Faith, which he will oversee beginning on October 11. He announced that in the coming weeks he will publish the agenda of this year's special events

Seven Holy Founders of the Order of Servites

Today's saints are the Seven Holy Founders of the Order of Servites. These seven men were born at Florence and led lives as hermits on Monte Senario, especially venerating the Blessed Virgin Mary. On Friday, April 13, 1240, the hermits received a vision of Our Lady. She held in her hand the black habit, and a nearby angel bore a scroll reading Servants of Mary Mary told them, You will found a new order, and you will be my witnesses throughout the world. This is your name: Servants of Mary. This is your rule: that of Saint Augustine. And here is your distinctive sign: the black scapular, in memory of my sufferings.

They accepted the wisdom of Our Lady, wrote a Rule based on Saint Augustine and the Dominican Constitutions, adopted the black habit of an Augustinian monk, and lived as mendicant friars. The men founded the Order of Servites which in 1304 received the approval of the Holy See. They are venerated on this day which is said to be the day on which Saint Alexis Falconieri, one of the seven, died, in the year 1310.

All seven were beatified on December 1, 1717 by Pope Clement XI and canonized in 1887 by Pope Leo XIII.

To learn more about the Order of Servites (The Servants of Mary), go here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Timothy Dolan: Being a cardinal it's not a promotion, it's a higher calling to serve the Church

February 16, 2012. ( Wearing a super bowl baseball cap and a windbreaker from New York's Police Department, Archbishop Timothy Dolan talked about the moment he officially found out he would be elevated to Cardinal.

The Archbishop of New York says it shouldn't be described as a promotion or honor, but rather as a higher calling to serve the Church.

Cardinal Designate Timothy Dolan
Archbishop of New York (USA)
“It has given me some humility. I can't let this go to my head. I can't let my head get as puffed up as my tummy. I have to remind myself 'I'm a sinner, I constantly have to improve my life.'”

As the president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops, Dolan has been the voice and face of those who oppose president Obama's new health care mandate. At first, it required all employers to offer contraception to their female employees.

Now, after Dolan voiced his concerns, the president said religious institutions would be exempt. Instead insurance companies will be responsible for directly offering the contraception to employees. Dolan says the fight isn't over yet.

Cardinal Designate Timothy Dolan
Archbishop of New York (USA)
“It left unattended the whole constitutional, American civil rights, philosophical question as to what right does a bureau of the federal government have to butt into the internal affairs of the Church.”

Dolan is 62 years old. He was born in St. Louis Missouri and was ordained a priest at the age of 26. After serving as the Archbishop of Milwaukee from 2002 to 2009, he was appointed Archbishop of New York. In fact, he says he considers the Church his spouse.

Cardinal Designate Timothy Dolan
Archbishop of New York (USA)
“In the early days of my life, I sensed that Jesus might be inviting me to be a priest. The longer I thought about it and talked about it and looked into it, the more convinced I was.”

Benedict XVI will name 22 new cardinals on February 18th, among them two Americans. Aside from advising the Pope on different issues, Cardinals younger than 80 years of age, also take part in a conclave, where the Pope is elected.

Pro-life Quote of the Day: Judie Brown on the HHS Mandate

"No one else will say it, so I will. The President is evil. He continually lies directly to the faces of people of faith, to our Catholic Bishops, to everyone. Yet they give him a pass. They think he is someone he is not. He is a liar. He thinks we are rubes, "clinging to God." His unconstitutional birth control "mandate," crafted and formed in private meetings with Cecile Richards, the President of Planned Parenthood, is intended to force Catholics and Christians to violate their faith, their core beliefs. To say no to God, and yes to Barack. We won't. He has awoken a sleeping giant."

~ Judie Brown, President of American Life League

Five Ways the Obama Administration is losing the HHS mandate battle

If Kathleen Sebelius looks a little stressed out in the photo above, she should be. She and Obama are in a cauldron of  hot boiling water over their little plot to get the American public to pay for abortifacient contraceptive drugs, abortion drugs, and sterilization. This is not health care and they know that, even though they continue to spout out their deceptive pro-death rhetoric. They cannot and will not take away our religious liberties, which our forefathers fought on the battlefield to uphold.  This is a war, they are losing,  and they will be defeated.  If they don't realize that by now, they had better pull their heads out of the sand.

First of all, attorney generals from a dozen different states are threatening to sue them for violating the beliefs of many  religious employers.

Second, 100% of the U.S. Bishops have condemned their 'compromised' mandates  and forty religious institutions have publicly opposed the mandate, with several already filing lawsuits.

Third, pro-life activists are protesting outside the White House and I believe that we can expect to see even more. This administration is making "White Martyrs" out of of us. Praise God for our pro-life warriors!

Third, EWTN International continues their lawsuit against the HHS mandate.

Fourth, our congressmen are firmly behind us and have vowed to do everything they can to defeat this evil mandate.

Fifth, the number of pro-life and religious leaders, and organizations filing lawsuits and pledging civil disobedience keeps growing. The ranks are increasing everyday as more and more people realize what the mandate is really about. It's about violating our civil and religious liberties -- the feeble attempts this administration is making at non-surgically removing our consciences -- and transforming all of us into culture of death clones.

Thank God for the gifts of reason, intelligence, and morality! Thanks be to God for those who are willing to stand up, defend, and even die for their religious beliefs and convictions! Onward, Christian soldiers! The victory is ours!

Saint Filippa Mareri

Filippa Mareri (c. 1190-1236) was born to a noble family in their castle in Cicolano, an inland area in the province of Rieti, Italy.

Inspired by St. Clare of Assisi, Filippa was a cultured woman who left a life of luxury and wealth behind  in order to embrace a life of holiness and poverty. When her family (particularly her brother) disapproved, she ran away with like-minded companions, and they lived in a nearby mountain cave for about three years until her brother asked her forgiveness and agreed to donate property to the community. Blessed Roger of Todi, a Franciscan, helped Filippa and her companions set up a monastery on the new site. He was assigned by St. Francis of Assisi to provide spiritual direction to this group of consecrated women. The community subsequently adapted a rule modeled upon that of the Poor Clares, which was confirmed by the Roman Curia. The women spent much of their time in prayer. They also prepared and dispensed medication, which they gave to the poor, without cost. When Filippa prayed, she carried a small cup to catch her tears so they would not wet the chapel floor. The water in the cup was reported to have miraculous powers and was used to heal those with physical ailments. Filippa is considered to be the first female saint of the Franciscan Order.

“The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
(Filippa's last words to her Sisters)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Archbishop Charles Chaput blasts the Obama Contraception Mandate 'Compromise'

“The HHS mandate, including its latest variant, are belligerent, unnecessary and deeply offensive to the content of Catholic belief."

“Any such mandate would make it morally compromising for us to provide health care benefits to the staffing of our public service ministries.”

“We cannot afford to be fooled – yet again – by evasive and misleading allusions to the administration’s alleged 'flexibility' on such issues. The HHS mandate needs to be rescinded.”

~ Archbishop Charles Chaput writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer on February 12, 2012

For more information, read this.

Religious Leaders, academics oppose Obama's contraception mandate "accommodation"

Over 200 college presidents, academics, religious leaders and journalists have signed a letter that denounces President Obama’s “accommodation” to the contraception mandate for failing to “remove the assault on religious liberty.”

“It is an insult to the intelligence of Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other people of faith and conscience to imagine that they will accept an assault on their religious liberty if only it is covered up by a cheap accounting trick,” the letter states.

Its signatories include Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Dr. Paige Patterson, Catholic University of America president John Garvey, Rabbi David Novak of the University of Toronto, and 207 other professors, scholars, journalists and religious leaders.

Read the full story.

More US Bishops speak out against the HHS Mandate 'Compromise'

General Audience: Pope Benedict Reflects on the Last Words of Christ

February 15, 2012. ( During the pope's general audience, he spoke to some 6,000 pilgrims in the Vatican's Paul VI Audience Hall. He focused his catechesis on the last words of Jesus before dying on the Cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”.


Dear Brothers and Sisters, in our continuing catechesis on Christian prayer, we turn once more to the prayer of Jesus on the Cross. Saint Luke relates three “last words” of the crucified Lord. In his prayer: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34), Jesus intercedes for his executioners and shows the depths of his reconciling love for sinful humanity. In his words to the Good Thief: “Today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23:43), he offers sure hope to all those who repent and put their trust in him. His final cry: “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit” (Lk 23:46), expresses Jesus’ trust-filled surrender to God’s will, born of that unique relationship to the Father which had shaped his own life of prayer. From the Cross, Jesus teaches us to forgive and love our enemies, to pray for their conversion, and to commend ourselves into the Father’s hands, trusting that they will continue to sustain us amid the sufferings of this life until they embrace us in heaven.

I welcome the priests taking part in the Institute for Continuing Theological Education at the Pontifical North American College. My greeting also goes to the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Toronto, as well as to the many diocesan, parish and school groups present at today’s Audience, especially the students of Our Lady’s High School in Motherwell, Scotland. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, including those from England, Ireland, Norway and the United States, I cordially invoke God’s blessings!

Saint Claude de la Columbiere

Today is the feast of St. Claude de la Columbiere (1641-1682), a Jesuit missionary, who was the brilliant and holy spiritual director of St. Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque.

Claude de la Colombiere is best known for his association with St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and the devotion of the Sacred Heart, but his life has its own drama. He was sent to England after his spiritual direction of St. Margaret Mary was over and became embroiled in the Titus Oates "Popish Plot," was imprisoned, then banished from England. His story is part of the history of the seventeenth century.

He was born near Lyons in 1641 to a very devout family and entered the Society of Jesus at Avignon. After his novitiate, he taught grammar and the humanities. Even before his ordination to the priesthood, he gained a reputation as a preacher. After completing his studies in Paris, he became tutor to the sons of Colbert, the financial minister of Louis XIV, but was dismissed from his post and returned to Avignon.

In 1675, after his solemn profession as a Jesuit, he was appointed superior at Paray-le-Monial, in which the convent of St. Margaret Mary was located. Here he became her spiritual director, encouraged her in the spread of the devotion to the Sacred Heart, and was described by our Lord as His "faithful and perfect friend."

Claude was known for his solid and serious sermons. They were aptly directed at specific audiences and, faithful to their inspiration from the gospel, communicating to his listeners serenity and confidence in God.

Because of his remarkable gifts and judgment, he was sent to England, to be court preacher to the duchess of York, wife of the future James II, and took up residence in London. His radiant personality and splendid gifts were noted by everyone. When the alleged "Popish Plot" to assassinate King Charles II shook the country, Blessed Claude was falsely accused of complicity in the plot and imprisoned.

Thanks to his title of preacher to the Duchess of York and to the protection of Louis XIV, whose subject he was, he escaped death but was condemned to exile in 1679. The last two years of his life were spent at Lyon where he was spiritual director to the young Jesuits there, and at Paray-le-Monial.

He died on February 15, 1682, an apostle of the devotion to the Sacred Heart, and was beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI.  He was canonized in 1992 by Pope John Paul II. His relics are preserved in the monastery of the Visitation nuns at Paray-le-Monial.

An Act of Hope and Confidence in God: A prayer by Saint Claude de de la Colombiere

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cardinal Designate Timothy Dolan on HHS Mandate: 'You Can't Compromise on Principle'

Happy Valentine's Day, Readers!

Learn how to make this valentine at Catholic Icing.  Find printable valentines here.

Religious Freedom: Civil Disobedience May Become Necessary

Chuck Colson speaks on the urgency of protecting our religious freedom and freedom of conscience. He addresses the present crisis stemming from the Department of Health and Human Services and Obama administration mandate to the Catholic church to include mandatory services in their health insurance, which go against Catholic teaching and conscience. He refers to the Manhattan Declaration as a platform for firm resistance and urges all to sign it and send links to others.

Sts. Cyril and Methodius

Saints Cyril and Methodius were brothers who were born in Greece and educated in Constantinople. They were the great apostles of the Faith to the Slavs in southern Russia, in Bohemia and Poland during the ninth century. Though Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius died sixteen years apart, their feasts are celebrated together. They are responsible for the Slav alphabet and for the Slav language. Pope John Paul II made Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius patrons of Europe, along with St. Benedict. They are also patrons of ecumenism and patrons of unity between the Eastern and Western Churches.

Learn more about them here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bishops Reject Obama's 'Accommodation' to the HHS Mandate

Image via Creative Minority Report.

No one is backing down, Obama, so you had better be prepared for all-out war with the Catholic Church and Christians throughout the country, as we stand up for life and our conscience protection rights.

On Friday, Obama revised his HHS mandate to "accommodate" religious institutions and says he is now finished negotiating. Here is the response of the U.S. Bishops to his proposal:

Today, the President has done two things.

First, he has decided to retain HHS's nationwide mandate of insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacients. This is both unsupported in the law and remains a grave moral concern. We cannot fail to reiterate this, even as so many would focus exclusively on the question of religious liberty.

Second, the President has announced some changes in how that mandate will be administered, which is still unclear in its details. As far as we can tell at this point, the change appears to have the following basic contours:

It would still mandate that all insurers must include coverage for the objectionable services in all the policies they would write. At this point, it would appear that self-insuring religious employers, and religious insurance companies, are not exempt from this mandate.

It would allow non-profit, religious employers to declare that they do not offer such coverage. But the employee and insurer may separately agree to add that coverage. The employee would not have to pay any additional amount to obtain this coverage, and the coverage would be provided as a part of the employer's policy, not as a separate rider.

Finally, we are told that the one-year extension on the effective date (from August 1, 2012 to August 1, 2013) is available to any non-profit religious employer who desires it, without any government application or approval process.

These changes require careful moral analysis, and moreover, appear subject to some measure of change. But we note at the outset that the lack of clear protection for key stakeholders—for self-insured religious employers; for religious and secular for-profit employers; for secular non-profit employers; for religious insurers; and for individuals—is unacceptable and must be corrected. And in the case where the employee and insurer agree to add the objectionable coverage, that coverage is still provided as a part of the objecting employer's plan, financed in the same way as the rest of the coverage offered by the objecting employer. This, too, raises serious moral concerns.

We just received information about this proposal for the first time this morning; we were not consulted in advance. Some information we have is in writing and some is oral. We will, of course, continue to press for the greatest conscience protection we can secure from the Executive Branch. But stepping away from the particulars, we note that today's proposal continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions, and to threaten government coercion of religious people and groups to violate their most deeply held convictions. In a nation dedicated to religious liberty as its first and founding principle, we should not be limited to negotiating within these parameters. The only complete solution to this religious liberty problem is for HHS to rescind the mandate of these objectionable services.

We will therefore continue—with no less vigor, no less sense of urgency—our efforts to correct this problem through the other two branches of government. For example, we renew our call on Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. And we renew our call to the Catholic faithful, and to all our fellow Americans, to join together in this effort to protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience for all.

Related: Catholic Bishops Respond to Obama’s Revised HHS Mandate

American Spectator: Bishops Reject Obama's 'Accommodation'

Aggie Catholics: Obama Pushes Back - Bishops Respond

National Catholic Register: U.S. Bishops to White House: 'Rescission of Mandate Only Solution' 

Looking for ways to celebrate Valentine's Day?

February 13, 2012. ( Few people know that Valentine's Day is actually linked to an Italian saint who was born in Terni, Italy back in the 3rd century. He's known as the protector of love and his story is fascinating.

According to tradition, there was a time when Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage, so that young men could devote themselves entirely to the army. But a priest named Valentine considered this law unfair, so he decided to marry couples, even though it was illegal.

To honor his legacy, the Church also has a few initiatives to celebrate Valentine's Day. On its website, the Episcopal Conference of Australia published a so called 'Kit for Valentine's Day,' with includes tips on how to respect, love and build a happy marriage.

In the U.S a website called “National Marriage Week,” is also listing tips on ways to improve one's marriage and even instructions on how to write a love letter.

There's also a so called “virtual retirement marriage” site that gives a few tips for each day of the week.

On their Facebook profile, even bishops launched a new catechesis on marriage and building a strong connection between husband and wife.

Meanwhile, a blog named 'Catholic Cuisine' believes that love and food go hand in hand. Its website includes several recipes for unique Valentine Day desserts.

So when it comes to celebrating Valentine's Day, these website make it even easier to say 'I love you' every day of the year.

St. Catherine de' Rici, Mystic and Stigmatist

Today's saint is the great Dominican mystic and stigmatist, St. Catherine de' Ricci (1522-1590), who was a Dominican nun, of the Third Order, enclosed in a convent at that time.

Alessandrina Lucrezia Romola de' Ricci was born in Florence, Italy on April 23, 1522 to a pious and well-respected family. Her mother died when she was an infant and she was raised by her devoted stepmother, who encouraged her to live a holy life. When she has about 71/2 years old, her father placed her in the Convent of Monticelli, in Florence, where her aunt, Louisa de Ricci, was a nun. Her aunt and the other sisters watched over her and taught her catechism there.

Alessandrina was fourteen years old when she entered the Dominican Community of Prat, taking the religious name Catherine. Initially and for the first four-fve years after her profession, Catherine experienced many trials and humiliations within the order. She received visions and had ecstasies, which caused some concern among her peers, who didn't understand her mystical experiences.

Eight years after joining the order, Catherine had her first spiritual ecstasy of the Passion of Christ. In addition to receiving the stigmata of the wound in the side and of the crown of thorns on the brow, for the next twelve years, she experienced all the stages of Christ's suffering. This happened every Thursday at noon and lasted until 4:00 pm on Friday. She offered up all this suffering for the release of the poor souls in purgatory.

Along with her rich mystical life, Catherine lived out her faith in a practical way, caring for the sick, especially the poor of the countryside. Having become the prioress of her convent at the age of twenty-five, Catherine gave spiritual counsel to three future popes.

As Catherine's reputation for holiness spread, lay people and religious alike came to see her for prayers and spiritual guidance. As a result of her prayers, penance, and counsel, many grew in personal holiness, discovering great hope, comfort, and peace in their faith and in the power of prayer.

Catherine died on February 2, 1590 at the age of 68, was beatified in 1732 by Clement XII, and was canonized by Benedict XIV in 1746.

St. Catherine de'Rici is the patron of sick people.

~ © February 2012 Jean M. Heimann